Working on the Road: Month Two – Balancing Work and Play

I’m not just a remote employee, I’m REALLY remote.   I’m becoming more comfortable with slower internet in realizing that it’s not impacting my work as long as the latency is low and the net is flowing. This allows us to be more flexible where we are staying and I have a lot less stress. Now, that I am done with stressing over the internet and I have a new issue…balancing work and play.

I bet your thinking the struggle is in too much play and not enough work, right?  You’d be wrong.

I’m finding that because I am living and working in my RV I’m working a lot harder and it’s a wee bit stressful because I have some weird guilt that I’m not in a house. I’ve been working remote for over 5 years and I have never had this guilt. I work harder because I feel like I need to prove that I’m more productive than I was before I moved into the RV.  My performance hasn’t had an impact, I get my work done, my clients are happy and my employer is happy. My regular reviews haven’t changed and if anything, I feel like my work is better quality. So why am I all of a sudden feeling this weird guilt that I have to work harder than I ever have?
Is it because life is awesome? Is it because I have a beautiful view instead of sitting in a house at a desk? To be honest, I have been sitting in an RV at a desk and I’m starting to force myself to be more flexible with my location. This last week I sat outside or I sat on the couch…I broke away from my desk and I got so much work done. I didn’t just sit here plugging away, checking my phone, browsing the internet when I got stuck on something….I just got shit done. I felt so productive that I decided to buy a portable standing desk. I’ll test it out over the next month and let you know how it goes!
The overworking, sitting at a desk for 12+ hours isn’t something new being in the RV. I did the same thing in the house. I think it’s really a remote worker problem in general. When you are in an office, you have other people around…you take a lunch…you walk into the kitchen and chat a bit. When we first moved into the RV I used walking the dog to make that break. I would chat with the neighbors and get a breath of fresh air. We were also travelling with a few other people, so on lunch we’d go to the pool or go for a walk to go chat with our friends. I was getting out. Since we’ve been on our own the last few weeks…I’ve found myself working through lunch and working late into the night.  Without something pulling me to get out, that guilt takes over and I’m struggling to break free. What this leads to is unproductive time management. Yes, I get all my work done but I get it done over 12-15 hours instead of a regular work day. Since I’m not taking that break to clear my head my work takes longer because I’m not laser focused. I fall back to the habits of being a bored, lonely, remote worker in a house. This week I did some experimenting to try and break that.
First, we went to a restaurant. Since I have a major guilt issue currently, I took my laptop with me. Don’t worry, it stayed in my backpack.  What happened when we got back? Laser focus, great work and done when the clock struck 5.  The next day…no break…dilly-dally all day…worked half the night. Lame. The day after, we went fishing for lunch. Came back, laser focus and great work! Surprise, surprise! Today I sat outside, put my laptop away for an actual lunch break and then hit it again and was done with my tasks promptly.  What this is telling me is that I need to figure out how to dump the guilt and play more!
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been playing! This week was Harrisburg Beer Week here in Pennsylvania and we’ve been to pubs and breweries and tried some awesome beers in the evening after work. By saying that I need more play, I don’t mean shrugging off responsibilities or cutting corners on my work. I need to find more of a balance to enjoy my surroundings, enjoy the area and the neighbors…get out of my guilt and work smarter, not harder.
If you’ve got some great resources on the focus bubble, productivity and remote life/work balance, please throw them my way! I work on a standard 9 to 5 schedule and if you’re doing the same, I’d love to hear from you. How do you work smarter? How do you stay focused and not overwork yourself? If you are a remote worker and traveling full-time, how do you get over the guilt that you’re not trapped in one spot plugging away all day?

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